Medical coding is becoming an increasingly popular career. Becoming a medical coder in the healthcare industry is relatively easy and offers an attractive salary and lifestyle. In this article, we will look at what a day in the life of a medical coder looks like, along with a guide on how you can pursue this lucrative field.
What Is a Medical Coder?
Medical coders are responsible for converting healthcare diagnoses, procedures, medical services, and equipment into universal medical alphanumeric codes. Medical coders work behind the scenes as the link between a healthcare provider and the monetary claims from an insurance company.
What Does a Medical Coder Do On a Daily Basis?
A typical day in the life of a medical coder involves translating information provided by a healthcare provider into medical code. These code are then sent to the medical biller and streamline the process of medical coverage. Below is a more detailed list of what they do.
- Review patient information. Coders read medical charts and translate the healthcare services provided to the patients into the correct medical code, which can differ between different healthcare insurance companies.
- Update medical data. Medical data needs to be kept up to date. Updating and inputting data into patient records account systems helps streamline an insurance claim and reduce errors in the medical billing process.
- Communicate with stakeholders. Medical coders communicate with healthcare providers, insurance companies, and others entities who are a part of the process to achieve correct and justified medical insurance claims.
- Input medical codes. These professionals use medical code, provided along with universal code classifications like the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10 CM) and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT), to prepare medical claims for the medical billers.
- Research medical records for medical coding accuracy. Sometimes a medical coder will notice inaccuracies or errors from information provided by the healthcare provider. This will require research to process the medical claim with the correct medical code.
How Can I Become a Medical Coder?
While the only official formal education requirement for a career path in medical coding is a high school diploma, some opt to acquire an associate degree or bachelor’s degree. Medical coding certification programs are also an option, with various educational facilities providing on-campus or online programs. These take between 18 months and two years to complete.
Medical Coder Degrees
Getting a degree in medical coding will teach you how to analyze medical code, index diagnoses, and procedures for reimbursement. A medical coding degree program can also cover subjects like medical terminology, collecting health data, medical billing, insurance guidelines, and coding support software.
Medical Coder Online Courses
An online program in medical coding can cover topics like medical terminology, medical and clinical coding systems, classification systems, and medical reimbursements. Once completed, you qualify for the certified coding associate exam, which is given by the American Health Information Management Association.
Medical Coder Certifications
Medical coding certifications usually require a certain amount of experience in the healthcare industry or the completion of a degree program. Taking the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam, a nationally-recognized standardized test can be advantageous when applying for employment in the medical coding field.
Once you have accumulated enough work experience with a healthcare facility in the coding field, you can acquire further certifications to increase your chances of promotion and a higher salary. These include a Certified Professional Coder (CPC), Certified Outpatient Coder (COC), Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC), and Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC).
How Can I Get a Job as a Medical Coder?
Medical coding is a lucrative path with considerable possibilities for career advancement. Medical coders work in a wide range of healthcare facilities like hospitals, private practices, nursing homes, health insurance companies, and other medical providers of patient care.
Some medical coders work remotely, as long as they can use the software programs needed to perform their medical coding job from home. This can save on travel costs, provide a more flexible schedule, and avoid traditional workplace politics.
Steps to Finding a Job as a Medical Coder
- Get the right education.
Getting an education should be the first step you take. Learning the skills you’ll need for the job you want is vital. Once you have your high school diploma, consider enrolling in an online certification program and taking the CCA exam. Getting a degree can unlock the possibility of being promoted. You can also get a certification specialty like CPD, COC, CRC, and CIC for higher-paying medical coding positions.
- Update your resume and create a portfolio.
Your resume should be fully updated and include your relevant basic skills, soft skills, hard skills, and coding skills, along with your certifications. Previous internships and jobs in the medical field, along with details about your job tasks, should also be included. Your resume is your portfolio, so make sure you include any information you want employers to know about you.
- Apply for an internship and network
Applying for an internship can also help you accumulate job experience while providing you with networking opportunities. Interning at a private practice to develop qualifications that will enhance your candidacy.
- Search job boards
Job boards are an excellent resource for finding job openings in various industries. You can use Indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, or Monster to search for work in the healthcare field. You can filter your search based on location, experience level, and educational qualifications.
- Drop of a resume in person
Let’s not forget the value of dropping off a resume in person. Although job hunting has nearly fully transitioned to the online world, inquiring about a job in person allows you to make a stronger impression on the employer and shows that you’re truly interested.
What Is the Average Salary of a Medical Coder?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical coding healthcare professionals earn a median salary of $44,090. The lowest ten percent earn an average of $28,800, while the highest ten percent earn an average of $73,370. Keep in mind, salaries vary depending location, level of education, years of experience, and the specific company.
Salary for an Entry-Level Medical Coder
ZipRecruiter cites the average annual salary for an entry-level medical coder as $38,591. This does not include monetary bonuses or benefits provided by healthcare employers.
Salary for a Mid-Level Medical Coder
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for a mid-level medical coder is $44,772. This number does not include monetary rewards that are provided by employers.
Salary for a Senior-Level Medical Coder
ZipRecruiter states that the average annual salary for a senior-level medical coder is $75,311. This does not include monetary bonuses or benefits provided by employers, nor does it differentiate between different levels of seniority.
Job Outlook for a Medical Coder
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a nine percent job growth in medical coding between now and 2030. This is slightly faster than the average for all jobs. The recent pandemic will likely increase the demand for these professionals, particularly in remote positions.
Should I Become a Medical Coder?
Yes, you should. Working as a medical coder in hospital settings, long-term care facilities, or through insurance providers is an excellent job choice. There is also considerable scope for growth by increasing your skills to become a medical coding specialist with higher income packages. Accessing this career is also relatively easy, especially considering that a degree isn’t required.
A Day in the Life of a Medical Coder FAQs
Medical coders aid in inputting medical data needed to process necessary care and claims into code. This saves costs for both the insured and insurance providers while preventing possible fraud.
They input the correct code for medical procedures and ensure the insurance providers pay the proper amounts. By doing this, patients don’t end up paying more than they should.
The top companies that hire medical coders are Baylor Scott & White Health, Insight Global, UnitedHealth Group, and McKesson Corporation.
Yes, it seems medical providers are happy. Indeed surveyed these professionals and found an overall rating of 4.4 out of five stars for this profession. Broken down, they rated their work-life balance at 4.5 out of five, pay and benefits at four out of five, and job security and advancement at 4.2 out of five.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.